notes on dutch literature

We Too, Tiny Titans

In More poetry please on November 17, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Hagar Peeters

Hagar Peeters writes poems about love, a subject she treats with light-footed irony, in language that at first glance looks like everyday speech, but on closer examination appears to be carefully composed, with inventive and effective use of all sorts of poetic devices.“Hagar Peeters takes the lead in poetic community,” wrote the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad after the publication of her second collection, Koffers zeelucht (Trunks full of sea air) in 2003.

For her poem Droombeeld (Dream Image) from Koffers zeelucht, Peeters received one of the three Poetry Day Prizes in 2004. Peeters has won several other awards for her poetry, including the J.C. Bloemprice. In 2008 she was short-listed for Dutch Poet Laureate. Her latest collection, Wasdom, was published in 2011.

Unfortunately the collections by Peeters are not available in any translation, but a few of her poems were translated by John Irons for


We had no clue what it was all about.
We did things just since things are what you do.
Performed our deeds and sometimes read a book
to celebrate that thoughts don’t die on you.We pushed ahead because you must go on
or stopped short at an unexpected look
for there are looks where meaning’s clearly sent,
above all when we wanted what was meant.

We started and we rounded off it seemed
but what was set in motion followed its own path.
We made our plans, though all the while resigned
to things not going as we thought they might.

We just ran out when we had reached the stage
that unforeseen things could not be reversed.
All that we had we left there in the lurch
and searched for that which had abandoned us.


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